Commissioners chided over headstones

Residents voiced displeasure with Seneca County commissioners Thursday over the panel’s inaction on paying for two headstones at the Seneca County Cemetery, before a private donation was made to cover the cost.

In public comment, Tom Breidenbach urged the county to reconsider the purchase of the headstones. He said that with the work of the Boy Scouts and the time spent by volunteers to reset the tombstones, the county needed to pay for permanent headstones.

Board President Jeff Wagner said the board supported the Boy Scouts’ work on rehabilitation of the cemetery and replacement of the headstones was a separate issue.

Commissioner Holly Stacy said the county was required by law to lay stone or concrete markers, but they were not required to provide headstones and instead wanted to look at alternatives.

“The concern … is that it’s at least maintained and respectable,” Stacy said. “I think that (the alternatives) would still do that.”

Breidenbach said the cemetery needed uniformity because the Boy Scouts have worked to make the cemetery look uniform.

Stacy said it was out of the county’s control to keep the cemetery uniform if families want to place their own stones in the future.

Loretta Miller and her sister, who wanted to remain anonymous, donated $400 for the headstones.

Miller said she was disappointed in the inaction and said that if the community could step forward to help Anna Angels after the recent fire tragedy, then Seneca County residents would support placing headstones.

“There’s no other way to express our disappointment in your actions,” she said to commissioners.

“They deserve the respect … I think that Seneca County community members would be very disappointed in your not respecting people who have passed on.”

The board thanked her for the donation and Commissioner Fred Zoeller said that he would speak with a family that placed their own headstone and ask to replace it to make the cemetery uniform. He also suggested donations would be collected to fund the headstone if the family gives permission.

Zoeller thanked everyone who was involved with the project and said that it could be one of the largest Eagle Scout projects in Ohio. Stacy said the rededication, at 2 p.m. Nov. 3, would be a good way to provide recognition for the volunteers.

In other business, Department of Job and Family Services Assistant Director Bob Anderson gave a report about the county employees’ wellness program. By participating in physical, preventive and educational activities, individuals can earn up to 150 points. Earning 150 points makes employees eligible for incentives that save 25 percent on the high-deductible health plan.

Anderson also gave a list of proposed upgrades for the insurance plan, including a possible family plan, adding points for immunizations, adding more presentations, getting points to utilize a tobacco quit line, donating blood and increasing access to assistance to maintain mental wellness.

He also said that according to user surveys, county employees wanted to add a dual walking program so employees could either use a pedometer or receive walking points for activities.

He said that a weight challenge could be added, either through the program or through entities such as Mercy Tiffin Hospital or Weight Watchers.

Anderson also suggested an appeals process for individuals who have questions on the interpretation of guidelines.

Wagner said that if an appeals committee is organized, the Health Insurance Advisory Committee should be used.

Commissioners heard a request from Sheriff Bill Eckelberry for an additional appropriation to pay for supplies for the Seneca County Jail and sheriff’s office.

Wagner suggested the extra funds be shifted from the public employees retirement system line and then provide a supplemental appropriation for the rest of the funds Eckelberry requested.

Eckelberry also said he wanted to increase Immigration and Customs Enforcement revenue by $250,000. He said he expected the ICE revenue to hit $1.75 million by the end of the year, excluding the November billing from the government. He said that if the sheriff’s office receives the funds by the end of the year, the county would have to increase revenue again.

“It’s always easier to give a (supplemental appropriation) when there’s income to support it, so first off, we’d like to say thanks,” Wagner said.

Wagner said he met with the Issue 1 Board to discuss seven applications that could request state bond money. The funds could assist with infrastructure projects. Wagner said applications are scored at a local level, and four of the applicants are scored high enough to be considered for funding.

The board signed a letter of support for the Fostoria and Tiffin fire chiefs to seek Federal Emergency Management Agency grants that would pay for firefighters.

The board also agreed to amend a resolution from Tuesday. In the supply line of the appropriation for the VOCA Expansion Project Fund, the board appropriated $4,150 when the request was for $150.

In new business, the board approved:

An appropriation adjustment of $15,000 within the General Fund.

An appropriation adjustment of $4,200 for Delinquent Care and Custody Fund.

An authorization allowing a fund advance repayment of $260,328.91 from the Youth Center Construction Fund back to the Capital Projects Fund.